Is it just me, or is there something about the smell of a perfectly seasoned dish that makes our taste buds come to life? Basil in tomato sauce, cilantro in guacamole, cinnamon in my smoothie, and garlic and cumin on just about everything else…Mmmm!
Spices do much more than just make mouthwatering flavor combinations. Spices are a great way to improve the health benefits of the foods we are already eating. Individual spices are herbs that come with their own variety of micronutrients to feed and nourish our bodies. Consuming a wide array of micronutrients is one of easiest ways to improve our health because they provide our cells with the building blocks to strengthen them and help them carry out daily functions. Since micronutrients allow our bodies to function as they were intended to, this can go along way in preventing illness and disease.
Spices can also have very targeted effects as well. Turmeric has recently become very popular because of its anti-inflammatory effect on the body. If you plan to sprinkle turmeric on your next dinner plate, add some black pepper as well to help increase the absorption of the turmeric. Cinnamon not only adds depth to sweet treats, but it can help stabilize blood sugar spikes. Kelp, sometimes used as a salt substitute, can help strengthen the thyroid. Fennel seeds were historically chewed on between meals to fight off hunger. The benefits of cayenne alone could probably fill an encyclopedia-sized book. Cayenne is a wonderful way to heat the body, stabilize blood pressure, provide overall energy, and so much more.
When you use plants to flavor your food, the possibilities are endless. Just think of how large the spice section is in the grocery store even though they only come in little bottles. Instead of always reaching for the same ones, try to diversify the spices you use in order to diversify the benefits. Since plant-based spices are dried and ground, a little goes a long way, but don’t be afraid to add more if your taste buds are calling for it. When we spice it up, the flavor improves and so does our bodies.
What is your favorite spice?